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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 395781, 10 pages
Research Article

Direct Cell-Cell Contact between Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Endothelial Progenitor Cells Induces a Pericyte-Like Phenotype In Vitro

1AO Research Institute Davos, Clavadelerstrasse 8, 7270 Davos, Switzerland
2Department of Trauma Surgery, Regensburg University Medical Center, 93042 Regensburg, Germany
3Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Albert-Ludwigs-University, 79106 Freiburg, Germany

Received 4 October 2013; Revised 24 November 2013; Accepted 15 December 2013; Published 20 January 2014

Academic Editor: Sanga Gehmert

Copyright © 2014 Markus Loibl et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tissue engineering techniques for the regeneration of large bone defects require sufficient vascularisation of the applied constructs to ensure a sufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients. In our previous work, prevascularised 3D scaffolds have been successfully established by coculture of bone marrow derived stem cells (MSCs) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). We identified stabilising pericytes (PCs) as part of newly formed capillary-like structures. In the present study, we report preliminary data on the interactions between MSCs and EPCs, leading to the differentiation of pericyte-like cells. MSCs and EPCs were seeded in transwell cultures, direct cocultures, and single cultures. Cells were cultured for 10 days in IMDM 10% FCS or IMDM 5% FCS 5% platelet lysate medium. Gene expression of PC markers, CD146, NG2, αSMA, and PDGFR-β, was analysed using RT-PCR at days 0, 3, 7, and 10. The upregulation of CD146, NG2, and αSMA in MSCs in direct coculture with EPCs advocates the MSCs’ differentiation towards a pericyte-like phenotype in vitro. These results suggest that pericyte-like cells derive from MSCs and that cell-cell contact with EPCs is an important factor for this differentiation process. These findings emphasise the concept of coculture strategies to promote angiogenesis for cell-based tissue engineered bone grafts.